When an architect and a developer buy and renovate their own home, you can be fairly sure the results will be something special! This is certainly the case for Kyra Thomas of Kyra Thomas Architects and her husband Julian Reznik, who bought a dilapidated self-storage warehouse, and turned it into a spacious, courtyard home.
‘We wanted a project that was more interesting than alterations and additions,’ explains Kyra. ‘We were keen to find a site that was an architectural challenge, something we could add value to, and create a generous family home from.’
They found this old warehouse in Queens Park, NSW, and bought it the same day. Kyra, who looked beyond its dark and dilapidated structure, immediately saw the potential for a ‘ calm, light-filled family home within the walls of the warehouse.’
Choosing the final design, however, proved to be a challenge; ‘There were hundreds of iterations of the design before I settled on the house we built. There were so many options of what we could do,’ she explains.
The new 220sqm house – with four exterior courtyards – sits within the 3.5 metre tall walls and 722sqm site of the old warehouse. ‘The result is a complete sanctuary. It’s unbelievably quiet and private,’ says Kyra. ‘The walls act as a buffer between us and the world.’
The house is designed around simple spaces, with a pared back material palette. Kyra worked hard to remove any areas and details that were superfluous, to create a home that was both sustainable and functional.
For the exterior, painted bagged brick features on new external walls, which connect to the old brick walls of the warehouse. Inside, the material palette is limited to three or four elements; sandblasted limestone for the floors, European oak for the joinery, fresh white walls and ceilings, and light oak furniture. The kitchen cuts a striking form in the midst of the clean interior with black stained oak and stainless steel benchtops.
‘This contrast from the rest of the house acts like a [Donald] Judd-like sculpture in the middle of open plan living spaces,’ says Kyra. ‘For me, the repetition of a few key natural materials brings warmth, texture and depth to the minimal architectural spaces and keeps the interior space calm and consistent.’
The heart of the home lies in the four courtyards, each situated to carry view lines between the different spaces and open up the house. Floor to ceiling windows connect these green spaces to the interior and allow light to permeate through the home.
‘It’s a total joy,’ says Kyra. ‘The dynamic of having greenery right up against the windows creates beautiful outlooks and connects us to a calm, ever-changing green space.’